ATLANTA, GEORGIA—In their opening World Cup Group A match, the United States and Wales fought valiantly and physically to a 1-1 draw on Monday night at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Qatar. At the half, the United States led thanks to a skillful goal by Timothy Weah, but Wales came away with a crucial point thanks to Gareth Bale’s late penalty kick.
After a fast-paced first 15 minutes, Josh Sargent’s header and a Wales own goal both came within inches of giving the Americans the lead. Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie were also given yellow cards for heavy fouls. Weah skillfully completed his chance from a quick-hitting counterattack after being passed in behind the defense by Christian Pulisic late in the first half as Gregg Berhalter’s team continued to appear the more dangerous of the two.
Following the goal, the aggressive play continued, and just before halftime, Yunus Musah and Pulisic were fouled by Bale and Chris Mepham, respectively. The crucial adjustment was made by Wales manager Rob Page at halftime when he switched out the unproductive Dan James for the taller Kiefer Moore, who was precisely what the team had been lacking in the first half.
After the game resumed in the second half, Wales repeatedly forced the Americans to defend, and in the 64th minute, Matt Turner made a crucial save by tipping a strong Ben Davies header over the crossbar.
As the second half progressed, Berhalter substituted three players to help the United States finish the game. Musah, Dest, and Sargent were replaced by Kellyn Acosta, Haji Wright, and DeAndre Yedlin. Walker Zimmerman fouled Bale in the penalty area, and Bale then blasted an incredible spot kick to beat Turner and tie the game for good despite 10 minutes of second-half stoppage time. The U.S. was on its way to a huge victory to start the World Cup.
The United States received four yellow cards, the highest since drawing five against Germany in 2002. Bale was cautioned twice during the game. On Friday, the United States subsequent encounter is against England, who are now leading their group. On November 29, they play Iran, who lost to the Three Lions 6-2 in their opening game.